The dark at the end of the funnel: The pipeline in computing education leads to a sewage plant
Recommended blog post from Neil Brown, in response to comments from Mark Zuckerberg that the problem with getting more women into computing is solved by getting computing education earlier. It’s not. It used to be that we’d say, “Women aren’t going into computing because they don’t know what it is.” Now we’d say, “Women aren’t going into computing because they know exactly what it’s like. Smart women.”
However, this is not solely an issue with the education system though that would be a familiar narrative — work force not as we would like it? Must be the fault of schools and universities. The pipeline or funnel doesn’t just need filling by shoving lots of 5 year old girls in one end and waiting for the hordes of female developers to swim out of the other end into an idyllic tech industry pool. Zuckerberg mentions that the lack of women in the industry forms a vicious cycle. This is not a problem at the education end of the funnel.
As this Fortune article describes, the industry is not welcoming to women. The Anita Borg Institute found that women’s quit rates were double those of men. Not to mention issues like maternity leave. The pool at the end of the pipeline is leaking, and for good reason. So the vicious cycle is not simply an accident of history; the women that are in the industry tend to leave. There are several reasons for this, some of which are identity and culture in the industry.